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2010-12-30

>twice cooked pork

(Moved from December 11, 2006)

Some cooks really knew what they were doing.

They long ago figured out the best scientific method possible for cooking a chunk of meat.

The reasons Chinese (Sichuan) twice cooked pork, hui guo rou, makes so much sense;

1) The most tender meat results from being cooked (see Hainanese chicken) in water (ideal temperature as low as 160F - 180F) for effective heat transfer and to prevent drying out. The meat has to stop cooking at the point when the center is barely cooked through, still slightly pink, which takes a lot less time than you think - matter of minutes, not hours. We are not making English boiled pork here.

2) What's missing here is the flavor we like so much when we normally grill or sear the meat - the surface browning ("Maillard reaction") and caramelization. So the Chinese chopped up the barely cooked, juicy, tender, easy-to-cut meat into matchstick strips, covered them with marinade, and gave the now enormous total surface area a brief but intense hot wok searing action.

Whatever seasoning you add to enhance the dish seems only incidental.

Ingenious.

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